Although most of bankruptcy (including the filing process) is governed by federal law, there is some Ohio-specific information you will need to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Much of this information is available online. Here's how to find it.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
Here’s what you need to know if you are planning to file bankruptcy in Ohio.
In order to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must show that you completed credit counseling provided by an agency approved by the Bankruptcy Administrator within the six-month period before you file for bankruptcy. You must also take a debtor education course after you file bankruptcy but before you get a discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
Each state has its own bankruptcy exemptions, which determine what property you get to keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and play a role in how much you repay unsecured creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
Some states allow you to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions, but in Ohio you can only use the Ohio exemptions.
To learn about Ohio’s exemptions for your home and car, take a look at The Homestead Exemption in Ohio and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Ohio. For a list of other common exemptions in Ohio, see Ohio Bankruptcy Exemptions.
When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete a bankruptcy petition, several schedules containing detailed information about your finances and property, and various other forms, including a lengthy form known as the “means test” (for Chapter 7) and a similar form for Chapter 13.
For more information about each of the official forms, including where to find them, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
When you file for bankruptcy in Ohio, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Ohio. If your income is below the median, you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years). This is called the means test.
If your income is above Ohio’s median income, you may still qualify for Chapter 7, but you’ll have to provide detailed information about your expenses and secured debt payments in order to find out. If you have sufficient income left over after you pay your expenses each month that money will go toward repaying your creditors in Chapter 13.
For information about each of these forms, including how to complete them, see:
Here’s how to find the Ohio-specific figures for these means test forms:
Ohio median income figures. Currently, the median income in Ohio is $40,471 for a single-person household, $50,253 for a two-person household, $58,376 for a family of three, and higher for larger families. These figures change periodically, so look here for the most current median income figures.
Example. Eric lives alone and his annual income is $29,000. He will automatically pass the means test because his income is below $40,471.
Ohio standard deduction figures. Forms 22A and 22C list categories of living expenses such as housing, transportation, food, and utilities. For some of those categories (like childcare), you provide the actual amount of your monthly expense. For others, you are permitted to deduct a standard amount, based on the standard allowances used by the IRS. Some of those standards are the same throughout the U.S., and others vary based on the county or region in which you live.
You can find all of the Ohio county and region-specific figures you’ll need for Forms 22A and 22C on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform” and then “Means Testing Information.”
Example. Housing and utility expense standards are different in each county. If you live in Cuyahoga County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $852 for a one-person household. If you live in Franklin County, the deduction for a household of one is $937. You can find housing expense standards for each Ohio county here.
Some judicial districts and bankruptcy courts require bankruptcy filers to complete additional “local forms.” To find out if your court requires additional forms, contact the bankruptcy filing clerk. Some courts post these forms online on the court’s website. (Below you’ll find links to Ohio’s bankruptcy courts.)
There are two federal judicial districts in Ohio (see below for links). You can file in either:
You can use the Court Locator tool on the U.S. Trustee’s website to find bankruptcy court locations and websites. The two district bankruptcy courts in Ohio are: